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Bar Association Ranks 7 Superior Court Candidates: ‘Exceptional’ to ‘Lacking’

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Judge Gary Kreep was ranked “lacking qualifications.” Image from KPBS broadcast

Seven candidates vying for two San Diego Superior Court judicial seats in the June 5 primary election have been evaluated by the San Diego County Bar Association, and the ratings ranged from “lacking qualifications” to “exceptionally qualified.”

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Given the lack of information available on judicial candidates, the SDCBA says it provides the evaluations as a service to the public. The association maintains that it does not compare opposing candidates, nor does it endorse or oppose the election of particular candidates.

In the 2018 judicial contests, Vicki Rothman is running against current San Diego Superior Court Judge Hon. Herbert Exarhos. Matthew Brower, Steve Miller, Timothy Nader and Victor Manuel Torres are running against current San Diego Superior Court Judge Hon. Gary G. Kreep.

“Each candidate is evaluated on his or her own individual merit and given one of four evaluations …,” the SDCBA said in a released statement.

Those four evaluation levels include:

Exceptionally Qualified: Presently possessing extraordinary professional ability, experience, competence, integrity and/or temperament indicating an ability to perform the judicial function.

Well Qualified: Presently possessing exceptional professional ability, experience, competence, integrity and/or temperament indicating exceptional ability to perform the judicial function.

Qualified: Presently possessing professional ability, experience, competence, integrity and/or temperament indicating ability to perform the judicial function.

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Lacking Qualifications: Presently not possessing professional ability, experience, competence, integrity and/or temperament indicating ability to perform the judicial function.

The SDCBA evaluations concluded the following for the 2018 candidates:

Matthew Brower: Qualified
Hon. Herbert J. Exarhos: Exceptionally Qualified
Hon. Gary G. Kreep: Lacking Qualifications
Steve Miller: Qualified
Timothy J. Nader: Well Qualified
Vicki Rothman: Qualified
Victor Manuel Torres: Exceptionally Qualified

The SDCBA’s Judicial Election Evaluation Committee prepared the evaluations by gathering information on each candidate from sources that included community feedback and data from each candidate.

“The JEEC follows a detailed and confidential process in determining its evaluations, modeled after the California State Bar’s Commission
on Judicial Nominees Evaluation process used when candidates are appointed by the Governor,” according to the association.

Factors that go into determining the evaluations include fairness and objectivity; integrity and honesty; decisiveness; judgement and common sense; judicial temperament; knowledge of the law; professional reputation; trial experience; intellect and ability; tolerance and lack of bias; caseload management; courtesy and patience; writing and research skills; and compassion and understanding, according to the SDCBA.

Religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, race, gender, disability and type of law practiced are not factors in the evaluation process, according to the SDCBA.

“It is important that voters make informed decisions when electing judicial officers,” said Kristin Rizzo, 2018 SDCBA president. “Attorneys have particular knowledge of our justice system, and what an important role judges have in our communities. We hope that our evaluations provide some guidance for San Diego voters who may be unsure who to vote for in contested judicial elections.”

State Court judges in California serve six-year terms and are elected by county voters on a nonpartisan ballot at a general election. Vacancies are filled through appointment by the Governor. At the end of each term, judges must seek re-election and attorneys are able to run for open seats.

–Staff

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